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China Confirms Their Warming is Human Caused

By Tim Radford, Climate News Network

LONDON — Chinese scientists have just confirmed that greenhouse gas emissions have sent the thermometer soaring in one country — China.

This is, they say, the first study to directly link warmer daily minimum and maximum temperatures with climate change in one single nation, rather than on a global or hemispheric scale.

Credit: CECAR/flickr

“Actually seeing a warming trend in a single location is hard”, said Xuebin Zhang from Environment Canada in Toronto. “It’s like trying to see the tide change when you’re in a rowing boat going up and down on the waves. You need a lot of data.”

Zhang and his co-author Qiuzi Han Wen of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Beijing, China, and others report in Geophysical Research Letters that they worked with a lot of data.

They had the maximum, minimum and mean daily temperatures from 2,416 weather stations in China between 1961 and 2007, and they decided to look for four revealing statistics: the minimum and maximum daily temperatures, and the minimum and maximum annual temperatures. They then analyzed this set of extremes and compared it with climate models.

They calculated that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions had probably increased the warmest annual extreme temperatures — the daily maximum and daily minimum for the hottest day and night of the year — by 0.92°C (1.66°F) and 1.7°C (3.06°F) respectively.

They found that human activity had increased the coolest annual extreme temperatures — the maximum and minimum for the coldest day and night of the year — by 2.83°C (5.09°F) and 4.44°C (7.99°F) respectively.

Raising the Pressure

China is now the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere — far ahead of the United States — even though China’s per capita rate of emissions is much smaller than for the U.S. It is planning to build another 363 new coal-burning power stations to deliver the energy it needs for economic growth.

Floods will become a greater menace in China as warming continues.
Credit: Chase Chesser via Climate News Network

Recognition by government-funded scientists in China that this investment comes at a palpable human cost to China itself could represent an important step towards political engagement.

“There is a warming in extreme temperatures over China, and this warming cannot be explained by natural variation”, said Wen. “It can only be explained by anthropogenic external forcings. These findings indicate very clearly that climate change is not just an abstract number for the globe; it is evident at regional scale.”

He said he expected warming to continue, as the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere continued to exert their influence. “This will have huge implications for China, as heat waves and drought have already become more and more of an issue in our country.

“We should expect more hardship for dry-land farming as water supply is already stressed, higher demand on energy for cooling, and increasing heat-induced health issues.”

Tim Radford is a report for the Climate News Network. Climate News Network is a news service led by four veteran British environmental reporters and broadcasters. It delivers news and commentary about climate change for free to media outlets worldwide.


By katya kapralova (seattle WA 98115)
on April 13th, 2013

this say nothing about ‘their’ geo-engineering and therefore I am skeptical of the accuracy of this problem and article

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By Eric Peterson (Front Royal, VA 22630)
on April 13th, 2013

Part of that human activity is the urban heat island effect which mainly shows up at night.  A good example is Reagan National airport across the river from DC where the temperature sensor is surrounded by ever-increasing amounts of gravel: The gravel holds the heat from the sun and radiates it night.  The result is that Reagan National airport has higher lows during calm nights, especially during record low nights (the records are obviously set elsewhere).  In fact rather than a typical grassy field sensor, Reagan airport has readings more representative of downtown DC or Baltimore.

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By Erik Pihl (Göteborg, Sweden)
on April 30th, 2013

Don’t believe that geoengineering as applied so-far would have effects on this scale.

Brown smoke, however, could. That’s all the particles from unclean coaland biomass combustion. Should definitely affect Chinas climate. That’s serious and a real climate effect as well, although, somewhat eadier to tackle than CO2 emissions.

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